Parties oppose Tamil Nadu CM’s plans to demolish PWD quarters
Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu on Sunday objected to the DMK government’s move to demolish the staff quarters of the Public Works Department (PWD) in Madurai for constructing a world-class library in memory of late DMK patriarch and chief minister M Karunanidhi. The opposition AIADMK and its allies, the PMK and the BJP wanted the government to pick another site stating that the late British engineer, Colonel John Pennycuick lived there.
In a joint statement, AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palaniswami said the PWD quarters is being maintained by successive governments for the past 100 years. “The structure has to remain so that the younger generations learn about Pennycuick,” their statement read.
Pennycuick’s legacy comes from his design for the construction of the Mullaiperiyar dam following a famine which he submitted to the then officials of the Madras Province in 1882, which is considered an engineering marvel. Work began in 1887, and the dam opened in 1895, but the waters and issues over the dam continue to be a dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala to this day. In 2014, when the Mullaiperiyar dam touched 142 feet, farmers garlanded the statue of Pennycuick in PWD as it irrigates agricultural regions of Madurai and Theni.
The local farmers had also raised this as an issue stating that Pennycuick lived there, but the district officials have rejected the claims. In a statement, Madurai district collector S Aneesh Sekhar said that the building in PWD was constructed in 1912, a year after Pennycuick’s death, so he could not have lived there.
On June 3, chief minister M K Stalin had announced that the library, to be named Kalaignar M Karunanidhi Memorial Library, will be established at a cost of ₹70 crore and that it will be modelled on the lines of the Anna Centenary Library in Chennai.